Stephen Nadler’s Warren Miller Attempted Bloggery post last week caused me to revisit Mr. Miller’s two cartoon collections, All Thumbs and Prince and Mrs. Charming. When I took Mr. Miller’s first collection, All Thumbs ( Bobbs-Merrill, 1967) off the shelf and looked at the cover I was reminded I hadn’t read Whitney Balliett‘s intro in ages. So I took a few minutes to reinstall it in my memory bank. It’s a very good intro (of course it is — Mr. Balliett, who passed away in 2007, wrote for The New Yorker close to half a century). Mr. Balliett gets right to Miller’s New Yorker history, placing him in the 1950s wave that saw the rise of so many great contributors (Charles Saxon, Donald Reilly, and Lee Lorenz among them) then moves on to mention a few early Miller classic cartoons (in 1967 Miller had only been contributing to the magazine for six years. He went on to contribute well over a thousand drawings). Before telling us that Miller plays trumpet and is an “excellent painter” we are supplied with a very short interview snippet proving Balliett’s suggestion that “like all first-class humorists, he [Miller] is not interviewable”… here’s the entire interview:
Interviewer [who I assume was Balliett]: Did you learn anything in the year you spent at art school in Chicago?
Miller: Ah…I don’t know. We’re still trying to figure that out.”
Interviewer: Who was or who were your chief models?
Miller: Louis Armstrong
Interviewer: What are your working habits?
Miller: What! Describe what you mean please.
Interviewer: How did you happen to join The New Yorker?
Miller: I sent them a whole bunch of rough drawings which they kept a year. So I wrote them a letter. I don’t remember what it said but they wrote back and invited me to New York for a talk. I went and they hired me.
More Miller: Warren Miller’s A-Z entry:
Warren Miller ( photo: NYC, January, 2020) Born 1936, Chicago, Ill. The following biographical information comes from The Phoenix Gallery site which hosted a group exhibit of New Yorker cartoonists work (Lorenz, Harris, Modell, and Miller) in 2007: “Warren Miller studied commercial and fine art at the American Academy of Art, Chicago. He started selling cartoons to Playboy and The New Yorker in 1961 and moved to New York City later that year. Miller’s work has also appeared in Esquire, Punch, Rolling Stone, Audubon, Harvard Business Review, Barrons, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, and the London Sunday Times. Mr. Miller is a painter and a sculptor as well. He has exhibited his work in a number of shows in the New York area and in the Midwest.” Key collections: All Thumbs (Bobbs-Merrill,1967); Prince and Mrs. Charming (Bobbs-Merril, 1970). New Yorker work: 1959 -.
An end of week listing of New Yorker artists who contributed to newyorker.com features
The Daily Cartoon: Joseph Dottino (with Alex Pearson), Liz Montague, Zoe Si, David Sipress, Mort Gerberg
Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook: “Breaking News From The White House”